“BN Gov’t under Najib the cause of imbroglio with Sulu heirs”

THE CRITICAL question before the Malaysian public is why did the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government under Datuk Seri Najib Razak cancel the annual stipend of RM5,300 to the Sulu sultanate in 2013? Was there any justifiable reason or reasons for this decision?Even if there was an armed incursion in Sabah in 2012, was this linked to the Sulu sultanate, or was it a mere excuse or opportunity to abrogate the annual stipend?The cancellation and the subsequent attempt by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to come out with another offer was something too late to mollify the Sulu heirs.I am not sure whether the letter written by former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas was prejudicial to the interests of Malaysia.Apparently, the purported offer of RM48,000 was not enough to placate the Sulu heirs, who went ahead to file the dispute with Malaysia in the arbitration court in France.The seizure of the two assets of Petronas in Azerbaijan and the subsequent stay in the court in Paris has brought to fore the long-standing unresolved dispute between the Sulu heirs and Malaysia over claims in Sabah.In fact, the seizure of assets of Petronas has indicated that Malaysia is a long way off from resolving the question of the sovereignty of Sabah. The Sulu heirs, it is reported, might be eyeing the takeover of Malaysia’s other global 167 assets.The trial in the French court might be crucial in terms of determining whether there is light at the end of the tunnel over Malaysia’s dispute with the Sulu heirs –  in other words, the Philippines.“His own political agenda”It is clear that Najib has his own political agenda in shifting the blame for the ongoing dispute with the Sulu heirs to the former PH Government and former AG Thomas.Whether the letter written by him while in office to the Sulu heirs in offering a new compensation of RM48,000 was prejudicial or not is not the question, but why it was written and whether he disagreed with the earlier decision of not paying the Sulu heirs.It was clear that the Najib Government was responsible for the present imbroglio with the Sulu heirs.The BN government could have avoided the irrational decision of stopping the annual stipend, especially under the circumstances of tenuous or no links between the armed incursion and the Sulu heirs.But whatever the case, the dispute with the Sulu heirs has become extremely problematic. As it stands, they are claiming a whopping amount of RM66 bil from the Malaysian Government for the loss suffered.This amount is one million times the original amount of compensation, RM5,300.The abrogation of the annual stipend in 2013 was a mere catalyst that formed the basis of a larger and more comprehensive claim by the Sulu heirs.It was without question that the oil and gas earnings of Sabah from 1970 onwards were factored into the colossal amount.“Who is responsible?”The question is: who is responsible for the present mess with the Sulu heirs? Was it the BN government under Najib or the PH Government?It is not about the quantum of compensation, but the sovereignty and future of Sabah.The letter from the state secretary of Johore in September 1953 to the colonial authorities in Singapore might have been a death knell to Malaysia’s sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh.But I am not sure whether the letter written by Thomas to the Sulu heirs offering better compensation could be interpreted as of similar significance to the letter written to the British.One was about giving up sovereignty and the other was in the direction of resolving the sovereignty issue. – July 24, 2022Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE